Monday, December 13, 2004

Into the Grey Havens

Mornings have a beauty associated with them! don't they? There are quite a few people who would relate with a morning like this; Sipping freshly brewed Madras coffee and reading "The Hindu" newspaper. There is one more element that is part of the morning ambience mix and one which as been part of people's lives for decades together. Yes! It is the Suprabatham by M.S. Its almost like a pre-packaged set, isn't it? Nine out of every ten people from Madras will say " Hey! I know what you mean". There are lot more intangible emotions associated with the coffee+hindu-paper+M.S-Suprabatham than what meets the eye of a casual observer.

Well! She is gone. People say an era is over. "The Hindu" seems to have realised that an arm of its has been broken and has sincerely carried news relating to M.S in the main page. I was lucky to be in Madras this Sunday and had a chance to visit people here and there on some other business. Wherever I went I saw people locked to the Television sets. It moments like this you realize how much a single person can impact the lives of thousand other people. I had read news on M.S being in serious condition on Saturday night in rediff.com but she had just been in and out a few months before and with Legends like these there is always a feeling that they would come through. I have to say there was a feeling of personal loss when my mom showed me Sunday morning's "The Hindu" which read "M.S.Subbulakshmi Passes away".

I am not much of a carnautic music expert. Days, months and years of listening to carnautic music in my house has had much less impact on my finer senses than it might have had to somebody else. I took a more or less common man's view of the passing away of M.S. My extended-family has been polarized with regards to M.S. There are some who even think she is part of the family and there are others who plainly refused to listen to her. Digging further revealed that her Bhakthi Rasa was what made her a fine singer from a religious context but from a puristic carnautic view, it seemed she was not up there with the best. I don't know technicalities but to me she was more than just impressive. There was some sort of an electric feel to her voice, which I felt was quite rare. Especially when she begins songs like "bhavayaami".

As I saw some people shedding tears for her on and off TV, it made me realize how much memories she means to these people. Not since Sivaji's death have I seen so many people feel a terrible personal loss. And it is about memories to people isn't it? Of course there are some who cry because it reminds them of changing times and probably reminds them of their own age. Some fellow singers were also deeply moved at her death. I was told that these were the same people who were offended at M.S being given the "sangeetha kalanidhi" at Madras Music Academy , which really is regarded as her greatest acheivement, well surpassing the UN appearance and the other awards she has won so far.

D.K Pattamal, the only surviving member of the famous trio; MS, MLV and DKP was interviewed on Sunday. She ( at the time of the interview M.S was still very much alive) was emotionally moved and in the end and she said in tears that her last breath must be left in a song. Quite a passionate ambition for a conservative women of the old era. A kind of passion, I belive all three possessed and allowed them to leave an indelible mark in the minds of the people. I guess for most people M.S in an invisble (but integral) element of what we call nostalgia. You hear a distant song, when you are travelling in a car. You press hard and you hear it well enough to say " thats what my mom put most mornings". With the exception of the fantastic rendition of Thirupaavai by MLV not many religious renditions outside of M.S songs have really been part of a person's life for such a long time so as to merge as part of his or her recollection of the past. Such songs bring much more than musical pleasure but rather a rolling bioscope of past flashes past us. Such songs dont merely flow from a tape they rather envelope us and create an environment.

For some reason, I was reminded of this Tolkien quote. There were other phrases and poems that would have been more apt for this context but this one was my personal favorite.

Well, here at last, dear friends, on the shores of the Sea comes the end of our fellowship in Middle-earth. Go in peace! I will not say: do not weep;for not all tears are an evil.

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